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Category: History

May Days and Freedom Walks

May Days and Freedom Walks

Spinozablue welcomes the poetry and fiction of A.J. Huffman and Charles Tarlton, plus new work by returning champions Donal Mahoney and Steve Klepetar. *     *     *     *     * I’m currently reading a fantastic history by Eric Foner, The Fiery Trial.  It’s a biography of Lincoln in a sense, but focuses on his relationship to slavery and its abolition. Two hundred pages in, I’m reminded of just how far we’ve come, and how incredibly, tragically long it took us to get…

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After the Ides of March

After the Ides of March

April showers us with new poetry and fiction by Cameron Gearen, Damien Healy and Donal Mahoney. *     *     * I’m currently reading a very interesting bio of Cleopatra, by Stacy Schiff, who also wrote a fine biography of Ben Franklin. She has range. Cleopatra is a difficult subject for any biographer, but Ms. Schiff does a good job trying to sort truth from legend, and admits when she can’t be sure about certain events or years in the life of…

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Sky Mixing

Sky Mixing

For February, Spinozablue brings its readers new poetry from Breda Wall Ryan, Damien Healy and Donal Mahoney, as well as fiction from Rosemary Jones. A pattern of Celtic voices by coincidence, not design – with an Asian twist.    *     *     *     *     *    Recently finished Peter Englund’s excellent history of WWI, The Beauty and the Sorrow. What makes this book so special for me is the democracy of voices, the voices on the ground and in the skies,…

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The First World War

The First World War

I’m about 50 pages into a new history of WWI. New for me, at least. It came out last year, and is by Peter Englund, a Swedish historian and journalist. So far, what is most striking is the quality of the writing, its vividness and power, and not just the author’s. He’s selected twenty people from several different countries to tell the story of the Great War, in their own words, from their own point of view, as they lived…

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Four Dead in Ohio

Four Dead in Ohio

We do not learn. It’s as if the past never happened. As if the millions of lives lost in war after war after war are all forgotten. And when people in the moment rise up and protest more of the same, they get shot down. Forty years ago today, four innocent students were gunned down by the National Guard at Kent State in Ohio. Nixon had announced an expansion of the war into Cambodia a few days before, and protests…

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The Sting of the Sun

The Sting of the Sun

About 100 pages into a fascinating new book, detailing the rise and fall of gods, goddesses, the religious impulse and its repercussions. The Evolution of God, by Robert Wright, is a general history, starting from the earliest hunter-gatherer societies, moving into chiefdoms after the discovery of agriculture, onto city-states in Mesopotamia and Egypt, and through the advent of Levantine monolatry and monotheism. I’ve reach the foot of Mount Monolatry and fierce storms are taking shape. Wright reminds us how much…

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Civil Wars: The Mother of all Oxymorons

Civil Wars: The Mother of all Oxymorons

I wrote briefly yesterday about Horacio Castellanos Moya’s novel, Senselessness. It’s difficult to describe, because so much of it is below the surface, though it still hits you in the mouth. The bulk of this very short novel is the narrator’s struggle with his ego, with the things that bother him, with his mounting anxieties, like the smelly feet of a beautiful lover, or the likelihood that her boyfriend will beat the hell out of him, or that a sinister…

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The Genuine Article

The Genuine Article

 Reading a very interesting collection of essays, The Genuine Article, by Edmund S. Morgan. It’s an historical look at early American life, taken primarily from his articles for the New York Review of Books. Lots of food for thought. He tells us (indirectly) that historians of that early period have spent most of their time with New England, not because of bias, but because of available records. We are blessed with a huge amount and variety of journals, letters, public…

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Heloise and Abelard

Heloise and Abelard

The pursuit of truth–intrepid, fierce, endless. In the face of the greatest obstacles. In the face of a rising tide of ignorance, bigotry and anger. Abelard and Heloise epitomize the conjunction of the ideal pursuit of knowledge with the explosive complications of carnal love. I see them both, living in the 12th century, feeling completely out of step with their times, wanting to change them desperately. Abelard did. Heloise could have, if not for her station in life as a…

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